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Coaching festival to leave Glasgow after support is withdrawn

THE International Festival of Athletics Coaching (IFAC), which has made Glasgow a global coaching Mecca in the past six years, has been spiked and now looks certain to go to a major European capital instead this autumn.

The Italian Olympic Committee is among those interested and wants to host it in Rome.

The weekend conference was first staged in 2008, under the auspices of the European Athletics Coaches' Association [EACA], as the brainchild of its president, Professor Frank Dick. Since then, IFAC has become one of the best conventions of its kind.

Speakers have included the coaches and backroom teams of Olympic and World champions such as Michael Johnson, Sanya Richards, Ashton Eaton, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Christian Olson, Justin Gatlin Maurice Greene and many others.

Scottishathletics, who helped bankroll and organise the event, has baffled Dick (IFAC president until two years ago) by declining to support the festival further. This will almost certainly impact on any attempts to launch a multi-sport coaching alternative in Scotland, an aim of IFAC.

The athletics body's intervention with sportscotland could bring a legal dispute, on restraint of trade. Sportscotland has been obliged to tell scottishathletics there has been no dialogue with EACA or IFAC. They were unable to comment on that last night, but said they were "supportive" of the sport's coaching plans. A scottishathletics spokesman said IFAC had "been an excellent opportunity for the development of scottishathletics coaches" but was "a big effort to stage . . . in Commonwealth Games year, in particular, as well as financial implications, we do not have the human resources to fully support it taking place only a matter of weeks after Glasgow 2014.

"There has always been a plan for IFAC to move around Europe. We support that concept and the opportunities that may present for Scottish coaches. Indeed, we would consider becoming involved in Scotland hosting it again on a one-off basis."

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: "scottishathletics no longer wishes to support IFAC being hosted in Glasgow, and we respect their decision. We remain in discussions with Frank Dick about the potential for hosting other coaching conferences in the future."

Dick had hoped the conference would help establish Scotland as a global gold standard venue for athletics coaching. "I have resisted offers from other countries for several years," he said, "but the timing of this, in Commonwealth Games year when there is such an opportunity to build a coaching legacy, baffles me completely. Common courtesty demands they have a word beforehand. We were still discussing this year's conference with Glasgow Life in December."

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